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SBD/March 29, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said that he “believed we had a deal” for Flames RW Jarome Iginla about 12 hours before the star NHLer ended up being traded to the Penguins, according to Stephen Harris of the BOSTON HERALD. Chiarelli on Thursday said, "We were informed around noon yesterday that we had the player. We won the sweepstakes, so to speak. [Flames GM Jay Feaster] just had to speak to the player and his agent about the logistics." Chiarelli said that after "failing to get any answers" from the Flames, he was "finally informed a little before midnight that Iginla would be going to the Penguins instead." That was where Iginla "apparently preferred to go." Chiarelli said he believed that because of “the magnitude of the player that Jarome was for their organization, they wanted to give him some space on (the decision).” He added, “It’s the player’s choice. He opted to go to Pittsburgh. So we were out" (BOSTONHERALD.com, 3/28). In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont writes Chiarelli "took the high road Thursday in explaining the bizarre proceedings that led to Iginla making Boston the non-city of choice for him." Chiarelli "repeatedly opted not to discredit the Calgary organization." Dupont: "But Feaster reneged. Very bad business. Of course, the caveat is that he reneged because the face of the franchise was positioned to splatter egg all over his face." But that "doesn’t exonerate Feaster." GMs "live by their word, and if they are deemed untrustworthy, or blatant liars, or simply dithering buffoons who missed something in the details (such as, say, a player’s ability to veto a deal), then eventually no one deals with them." Either Feaster was "leapfrogged by his own ownership group, or thwarted by Iginla and his representation (Ontario-based Newport Sports), or he just messed up" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/29).
WHAT HAPPENED? The CP's Donna Spencer noted when Feaster approached Iginla about possibly trading him "to benefit the struggling Flames," Iginla "obliged by waiving the no-trade clause in his contract and provided the GM with a select list of teams he would consent to join" (CP, 3/28). Chiarelli said that after he learned of the Flames-Penguins trade, he "requested the opportunity to speak to Iginla, which was denied." The CBC's Elliotte Friedman wrote, "You can understand why Chiarelli would be furious. Any team would, including Calgary if it happened to them." It is why GMs "freak at trade rumours and the Flames themselves went into the Cone of Silence." As much as these clubs "want to clobber each other, it gets very difficult to do business when you are not trusted" (CBC.ca, 3/28). Chiarelli said, "We operated on the premise that we had a deal. When things were silent, in my experience, when things go silent, things are usually going screwy from your end." In Boston, Fluto Shinzawa noted when Feaster told Chiarelli the news that Iginla was going to the Penguins, Feaster "acknowledged something had happened to scotch the Boston deal." Chiarelli declined to share "the nature of the event" (BOSTON.com, 3/28). In N.Y., Dhiren Mahiban reports Penguins GM Ray Shero was "almost as surprised as Chiarelli that Pittsburgh landed Iginla" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/29). Shero said, "I called my kids and let them know we acquired Jarome Iginla, and they said, 'No you didn't. He's going somewhere else. We saw on TV.' I'm like, 'Well, I think we're getting him'" (TRIBLIVE.com, 3/28).
SWING & MISS FOR THE MEDIA? CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty wrote this was "one of the most stunning developments in recent NHL trade deadline history," as "every report on Wednesday" linked the Bruins to Iginla (CSNNE.com, 3/28). The CP's Spencer noted TSN's Aaron Ward tweeted the trade with the Bruins "was done, only to find out his 'sources' jumped the gun." TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted, "To be clear -- no excuses -- our group at TSN, of which I'm part of, regrets making a reporting error tonight. Apologies to our audience" (CP, 3/28). WEEI.com's DJ Bean noted when Ward reported that the Flames and Bruins had agreed to a trade "everyone ran with it." TSN's Darren Dreger followed up "by confirming the report, and then a lot of reporters did that vague are-you-reporting-it-or-are-you-just-trying-to-look-like-you're-reporting-it-type of reporting" (WEEI.com, 3/28). CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits wrote, "All of those reports on Wednesday night that Iginla was going to Boston? It's not that they were completely baseless. It's just that the important final ingredient was Iginla saying yes to the deal, and he didn't" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/28).
FACE OF THE FRANCHISE: In Toronto, Steve Simmons writes, "The price Feaster came away with in exchange for the best player and most-popular player in franchise history is enough to make a Calgary Flames fan cry. Really, how do you sell the Iginla trade to a fractured fan base that deserves so much better?" (TORONTO SUN, 3/29).
AltaCorp. Capital Chair & CEO George Gosbee "emerged Thursday as part of a group of fellow Canadian investors who hope to close a deal to purchase" the Coyotes from the NHL for $170M as early as next week, according to sources cited by Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. Gosbee represents several investors joining forces with former Ice Edge Holdings CEO Anthony LeBlanc. If a deal is completed, the group would work with the city of Glendale to "hammer out a new lease agreement" at Jobing.com Arena. Former Sharks CEO Greg Jamison previously attempted to buy the team, but could "not come up with the required financing" and has "ceased to be a factor in the team's potential sale." Sources said that the NHL will "not operate in Glendale for another season if new owners can't be found" (ESPN.com, 3/28). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts notes Gosbee travels in the "same circles" as Flames Owner Murray Edwards and he is friends with Oilers Owner Daryl Katz, which is "always a plus in the clubby NHL." But a source said that this deal is going to be "the same as all the previous failed attempts to buy the Coyotes -- it will depend on a sweetheart arena lease from the suburban city of Glendale." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly have to "resolve where the Coyotes will play next season in time to draw up the schedule." While there have been "reports this needs to be done before the playoffs start ... Bettman has shown in the past he can drag things out until late June" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/29).
BEACON OF LIGHT? In Phoenix, Paul Giblin reports the Glendale City Council has "hired Beacon Sports Capital Partners of Needham, Mass., to solicit bids from management companies to run the arena and to handle the city’s negotiations with potential Coyotes owners." Council member Gary Sherwood said that Beacon is "expected to elicit requests for proposals for companies to manage the arena early next week." Beacon’s involvement "essentially creates a new deadline for investors to buy the team, because council members are open to the idea of an independent management firm taking over operations of the arena." If potential new team owners "want the arena management business, which was essential to Jamison’s proposal, they’ll have to strike a deal with the city before an independent management firm does" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29).
The Yankees are "giving away free tickets for their most expensive seats for the 2013 season," according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN N.Y. An e-mail was sent to Legends Suite licensees Thursday offering "'complimentary' Legends tickets for pre-selected games to multi-year season ticket holders who own those seats," which normally cost $500-1,250 per game. A Yankees spokesperson said that season-ticket holders will "receive two tickets per seat, and they can use them at select games." The Yankees in explaining the decision said that they are "just trying to give their Legends Suite Holders added value." Marchand noted the team has "never extended the offer to Legends Suite season ticket holders before" (ESPNNY.com, 3/28). On Long Island, Jim Baumbach reports the Yankees' streak of 17 straight Opening Day sellouts "will reach 18" when they host the Red Sox Monday. However, Yankees Dir of Communications & Media Relations Jason Zillo said that sales for the "second and third games of the season ... are 'slightly off' pace from last season at this time" (NEWSDAY, 3/29).
YANKEES STILL TOPS IN PAYROLL: The AP's Ronald Blum noted the Yankees are "on track" to have MLB's highest Opening Day payroll for the 15th straight year, climbing above the Dodgers to a projected $228M with this week's acquisition of LF Vernon Wells. For all the talk of "austerity" under Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner, the team will "break the record of $209 million it set in 2008 and top the $200 million mark for the sixth straight season." While the Yankees will "pay luxury tax for the 11th consecutive year in 2013, they want to get under the $189 million tax threshold in 2014." Yankees President Randy Levine said, "We've actually increased our payroll this year. As sometimes happens, certain people like to ignore the facts instead of the reality" (AP, 3/28).
STEINBRENNER SPEAKS CONVINCINGLY: In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes Steinbrenner "opened himself up for two radio interviews earlier this week" with Mike Francesa and Michael Kay, which was "unusual." Steinbrenner does not "relish close encounters with microphones, cameras or notebooks." It "wasn't like Steinbrenner sounded thrilled" during the interviews, but he was "convincing, in complete control and kind of likable." This might be the season Steinbrenner is "forced to become a visable mouthpiece for the Yankees," and it could "make tremendous business sense." If the team's success begins "to slide, the Yankees will need a voice fans believe, a credible spokesman who can manage the message." Someone fans "believe is working in their best interests." Steinbrenner must "show he’s running things and executing a plan, especially if ticket sales and TV ratings plummet." The timing of the radio interviews was "important," as fans "needed to be told things ain't as bad as the media is making them out to be." That is "exactly what Steinbrenner did" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/29).
The Trail Blazers held their second "State of the United" event together for season-ticket holders on Wednesday night, and team President & CEO Chris McGowan said that it is “likely similar get-togethers will be held later this year,” according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. McGowan indicated that there could be “three or four ... held each season.” Subsequent sessions “may focus on one theme, rather than run a gamut of fans' concerns.” Wednesday's event was closed to media, but McGowan said that the “first business-related question was about in-season ticket discounting.” McGowan: "They see us mass-advertising tickets for cheaper than what they're paying, it rubs some people the wrong way. It's something they're right about and we're changing." He acknowledged that it is “possible that with the phase-out of some team-sponsored, in-season ticket discounting plans, the team will make it more attractive for season ticket holders or others to sell their tickets through third-party brokers, like StubHub.” McGowan: "We're not going to do as many mass-advertised discounts. The goal is to be able to look season ticket holders in the eye and say, 'You have the best price.'" Some participants also “questioned the team's plan to raise ticket prices for the 2013-14 season” (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/29).
Whalers Sports & Entertainment Founder, Chair & CEO Howard Baldwin said that he believes people "at the state level" discouraged Global Spectrum and other companies recently bidding to run XL Center from working with him with the AHL Connecticut Whale because his company "still owes the state money associated with snow-removal costs from the 2011 outdoor hockey festival he staged at Rentschler Field," according to Paul Doyle of the HARTFORD COURANT. Baldwin and his son, Howard Jr., said that they have been "paying back creditors, but the debt to the state lingers and they believe that's the reason they won't have a role." Baldwin: "We made mistakes, absolutely. But we've tried to work with people. Both city and state." The Whale's lease with the XL Center under Baldwin "called for a $25,000 a game rent, the highest in the AHL." When the Capital Region Development Authority corresponded with the AHL in February, the league noted Baldwin's lease was "not sustainable" and was one of the most "onerous" in the league. Baldwin said of running the team, "It was harder than I thought, I wouldn't kid you. But we were starting to make it work. The revenues were going up, the interest was going up." He added, "We didn't do everything right. If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably say to hell with the team and I'd just do the winterfest and the summerfest and that will be that. But we felt that hockey might be on its way out, based on what we were being told. So I really wanted to give the team a try." Baldwin's son said that the company "could have survived with a more favorable lease, even with the loss from the outdoor event" (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/29).
On Long Island, Jim Baumbach reports the Mets' streak of 14 straight Opening Day sellouts is "in jeopardy of ending" on Monday against the Padres. The Mets said that they are "only a few thousand tickets shy of a sellout and remain optimistic they will pack the house." However, the club's official website on Thursday showed tickets were "available throughout most of Citi Field." Still, the Mets said that they are "closer to a sellout this year than at the same time last year." Mets Senior VP/Marketing & Communications David Newman said that they "reached a 42,080-ticket sellout last season in part because they benefited from 'a tremendous walk-up'" (NEWSDAY, 3/29).
OFF-LIMITS: In Ft. Worth, Gordon Dickson notes when the Rangers open their home schedule April 5 against the Angels, "only vehicles carrying passengers with tickets will be allowed access to the parking lots." Team officials "don't want a repeat of Opening Day last year, when many Rangers ticket holders arrived with no place to park -- and ended up walking a half-mile or more from remote lots west of Cowboys Stadium." Rangers Exec VP/Ballpark Operations Rob Matwick said that the new parking rule, announced Thursday along with some other tailgating restrictions, "would be in effect throughout the season." But he "stressed that the rule would probably only be enforced on Opening Day, or during postseason play if the Rangers make the playoffs" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/29).
THE RAYS' WAYS: In Tampa, Curtis Kruerger in a front-page piece reports the Rays have made a "minor adjustment to ticket prices, but one effect is that the cost of some tickets could go up during the year." The team has stopped using pricing labels for games such as "diamond" and "platinum." It now can "change prices during the season based on team popularity or a special event at the stadium." Rays VP/Communications Rick Vaughn said, "It's really very similar to the system before. We just added some flexibility, and we're moving away from using those names" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/29).
JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: CSNNE.com blogger Mike from Attleboro wrote Red Sox ownership is "still so obsessed with the bottom line, they don’t see a real solution right in front of them." Instead of focusing on $5 "beer and two-for-one hot dogs," rookie CF Jackie Bradley Jr. is "just the kind of 'attraction' that would draw Sox fans back" to Fenway Park. Bradley may start the season in Triple-A due to "contractual reasons," but with the "way this kid is playing ... how can he not start on the roster?" If Bradley "starts the season in Pawtucket, ownership gains an additional year of control with Bradley," and "unfortunately it could cost them more than just a couple of games." It might once again "lose the team currently in the clubhouse" (CSNNE.com, 3/28).
TROUBLING SIGN: CNBC’s Brian Shactman noted the Astros will have a payroll around $25M to start the season and said, “I don’t know how competitive you can be, but you can still be profitable. You can basically start and park in baseball and make a profit, and that’s kind of the problem.” Shactman said it is "scary” a team can have a payroll like the Astros and “still make money." Shactman: "How offensive is that to your fans?” (“Street Signs,” CNBC, 3/28).